September 11, 2015

The heavily cratered and often-flooded Hemlock St, between Lake St and Grand Blvd in Miller, got a much-needed paving. And the storm water diverters got a workout when four and a half inches of rain socked the neighborhood on the Saturday afternoon before Labor Day. According to one local eyewitness, water pooled up fast enough to stall out “some idiot in a Mustang,” but the flood quickly receded. Similar improvements on Lake Street have kept the vicinity of the Miller Woods and Paul Douglas Center for Environmental Education higher and much drier.

Purdue University Calumet civic engineering students and their professor find that a diverter near Hart Ditch and the Little Calumet River levee system was not working to full capacity.

Hobart proposes an update to their stormwater plan, hoping to keep up with development at the south end of the city.

Crown Point is taking over waste water processing of the Hermits Lake subdivision and residents will see considerable increases in assessments and sewage bills. The unincorporated subdivision has been polluting Foss Ditch and Lake Dalecarlia for more than 50 years.

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Long Beach, Indiana doesn’t give a friendly, welcoming impression. In fact, the first impression of this Lake Michigan community is unnecessarily large lakefront houses, seemingly empty most of the year, where foredunes should be. And then there’s all the “PRIVATE” “NO TRESPASSING” “PRIVATE PROPERTY” “RESIDENTS ONLY” signs uglyfing the public’s lakeshore. Well pay no mind to those signs on the beach anymore, region rats!

In July a LaPorte Superior Court judge ruled against lakefront homeowners claiming the beach all the way to the water line as their private property. In his ruling, Judge Richard Stahlbrink found the beach area below the “Ordinary High Water Mark” belongs to a “public trust,” protecting citizens rights to use and access. “Private landowners cannot impair the public’s right to use the beach below the OHWM…. To hold otherwise would invite the creation of a beach landscape dotted with small private fenced and fortified compounds designed to deny the public from enjoying Indiana’s limited access to one of the greatest natural resources in the state.”

The small clique of recalcitrant homeowners have now resorted to fear-mongering. Misnaming themselves “Stewards of our Shores,” they have placed a 2 page ad in a local weekly, warning that “universal public ownership of large portions of the beach to the entire public” and “enhancing bus activity from Michigan City and elsewhere” (catch the racist/classist codetalk there?) will leave their “private beach community” threatened.

The Long Beach Community Alliance has refuted a number of false claims made by the “Stewards” (sic), and point out that even Long Beach residents who don’t own lakefront property are being excluded from use of the public’s land. The matter even attracted media attention downstate. Dig this BLISTERING editorial from NUVO’s David Hoppe:

“What the so-called Stewards fail to recognize is that Michigan City already enjoys an embarrassment of riches with its broad and well-maintained public beach.

That someone would want to board a shuttle bus and go to Long Beach, for example, where rising lake levels and the fecklessness of private property owners and town managers has created not just narrow beaches, but stretches cluttered with all manner of sun’n’fun bric-a-brac, corrugated steel and concrete sea walls, NO TRESPASSING signs, bull-dozed foredunes, and the occasional leaking drainage pipe…well, you must be dreaming.

What the Stewards fail to mention is that the lack of stewardship by private property owners along the beach helps account for the grassroots community support that spurred resistance to private ownership claims in the first place. The rampant development of large-scale houses and the installation of septic systems on the beach, as well as the aforementioned demolition of picturesque foredunes (otherwise known as Nature’s levees) seems an odd kind of stewardship.”

The North Pointe Pavilion has opened in Michigan City’s lovely Washington Park, and the two principal agencies responsible are now at odds. Was a 7 foot spotlight in the original plan?

The Love Our Lakes project in LaPorte spares 2 acres along Pine Lake from a 6-story condo.

Elected officials on both sides of the state line are showing concern over the proposed Singleton Quarry, near I-65 and Route 2. As reported in the Post-Tribune, Indiana State Senator Rick Niemeyer (R-6) has requested the Indiana Department of Environmental Management hold a public hearing. Meanwhile, in Illinois, US Congresswoman Robin Kelly (D-2) toured the Kankakee River near the state line. The Singleton Stone Quarry project was halted when human remains, believed to be 500 years old, were found at the site. Opposition from locals has been strong and vocal.

Those who hunt and those who fish argue over the Black and White Oak Bayous at the LaSalle Fish and Wildlife Area in Indiana. A controversial plan to drain Black Oak Bayou will proceed, with some alteration.

Speaking of the Kankakee, the South Bend Tribune published a link to a fantastic interactive map of that great river. Advocates are calling for the establishment of the Kankakee as a National Water Trail.

 An albino raccoon gets a little R+R in Valpo.

A gruesome discovery in the Garfield Park park lagoons in Chicago last Saturday. The city drained the lagoons on Tuesday to continue a search.

The Illinois EPA got an earful from Lake County, Illinois residents about the coal-burning plant in Waukegan.

The Lake County, Indiana council updated its list of trees prohibited along county roads and right of ways in unincorporated Lake County. Beech and Redbud were removed from the list, while 5 were add: Apple, Ash, Crab Apple, Pear, and Princess.
The list aims to prevent the planting of new invasive and fruit-dropping trees, in effort to reduce incidences of insect swarms and clogged storm sewers. It does not prohibit existing trees.
You cannot plant the following trees near roads and right-of-ways in unincorporated Lake County:
American Sycamore
Aspen Poplar
Black Locust
Crab Apple
European Birch
Fir (all)
Honey Locust
Mountain Ash
Norway Maple
Paper Birch
Pin Oak
Pine (all)
Russian Olive
Silver Maple
Spruce (all)
Thorny Hawthorn

Finally this week, on the eve of a major public meeting about the plans for private development and alcohol service at Indiana Dunes State Park the NWI Times has published a shortsighted editorial in favor of Pavilion Partners, LLC. This leaves us with three questions: Do the editors at the Times understand the differences in developing in a conservation area vs. development in established urban areas? Do they know why the Indiana state park system was created? And have they ever read a basic primer on political economy? Even Adam Smith wouldn’t agree that capitalism is “always a good thing.”

In a late vote, the Porter County Alcoholic Beverage Commission decided 3-1 against granting a license for a proposed restaurant in the state park.




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